Florida Gothic by Mitzi Szereto

Florida Gothic by Mitzi Szereto
Publisher: Strange Brew Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (74 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Stuck in a twilight world between life and death…

A hit-and-run driver leaves Ernesto Martinez to die by a Miami canal. Then an alligator comes along to finish the job.

Being dead gives Ernesto plenty of time to think. He thinks about his wife, taken from him too soon by illness. He thinks about his daughter, the victim of a drunk driver. He thinks about his death as he watches his body slowly decompose.

Most of all, he thinks about injustice.

The meth head ex-con living in the Everglades. The judge enjoying retirement on the Gulf Coast. The son of a Colombian drug kingpin partying in South Beach. These men care nothing for the pain they’ve caused. But they’ll soon know what it is to feel pain.

Set against the sweltering bug-infested backdrop of South Florida, Florida Gothic weaves a darkly unnerving and visceral tale of sex, drugs, crime and vengeance.

Justice can be delayed, but eventually it will be satisfied.

This was one of the goriest tales I’ve read in a long time. Ernesto’s death was a gruesome one, and that was only the beginning of blood and gore that showed up everywhere he went as he figured out how to spend his time now that he was no longer living. With that being said, all of these scenes had an important purpose and I’m glad they were described with such grisly detail. These horror elements were a huge part of what made this book as interesting as it was.

There were too many narrators in this story. I found it confusing to switch among all of them so often, especially since their connections to Ernesto weren’t always made clear to the audience right away. I would have preferred to get to know one or two of them well instead of learning a little bit about so many different characters.

Ernesto was a complicated guy. My feelings about him wavered a lot depending on where I was in the plot and what kind of trouble he was currently getting into. Sometimes I liked him, and at other times my opinion of him was nuanced and hard to fit into something as simple as approving or disapproving of him. He wasn’t the kind of character who was at all easy to pigeonhole, and that made me curious to learn more about him. Once I finished the final scene, though, I was glad that he was written in such a complex way and that the author trusted me to come up with my own opinions about him.

Florida Gothic should be read by anyone who has ever had a revenge fantasy.

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